Chase Freedom Unlimited® review

Nouri Zarrugh  in  Cash Back How we rate our cards  |  Advertiser Disclosure
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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

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Best for large cash back potential

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR:
14.99 - 23.74% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Bankrate Rating

Best for versatile cash back

  • Rewards Rate: 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022); 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% cash back on dining; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases; 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Welcome Offer: $200 cash bonus with this card when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Purchase Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 14.99% – 23.74% (variable)

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has long been a favorite among fans of flat-rate cash back credit cards, but the card may now hold even greater appeal for rewards-savvy cardholders looking to get started with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Chase recently revamped the Freedom Unlimited card’s rewards scheme to offer bonus cash back on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal, as well as on dining and drugstore purchases. Meanwhile, the 1.5 percent cash back rate on general purchases is sticking around, making the card worth a look for budding travelers and low-maintenance cash back enthusiasts alike.

Just keep in mind that you’ll need excellent credit to qualify, and though the card offers a solid average cash back rate, you’ll get the most value out of your rewards when you pair the Freedom Unlimited with a higher-tier Chase travel credit card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited current welcome bonus

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is currently offering an impressive welcome bonus of $200 cash back after you spend $500 in your first three months of card ownership. This is $50 higher than the card’s previous offering of a $150 cash back bonus for spending $500 in the first three months and stands as the card’s highest flat cash bonus to date.

On top of that, the card comes with a compelling first-year cash back rate on grocery store purchases: You’ll earn 5 percent cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on your first $12,000 in spending in the first year. While a number of issuers are offering limited-time bonuses on grocery purchases to better serve cardholders during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is one of the more generous time frames out there.

Assuming you meet the $500 spending requirement and max out the bonus on grocery store purchases, you stand to earn a total of $800 cash back (equal to 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points) in your first year – not including all the rewards you’d earn via card spend.

If you’ve been eyeing the Freedom Unlimited and waiting for the best time to apply, the current welcome bonus should be a great motivator.

Cash back

With its recent refresh, the Chase Freedom Unlimited stands out as one of the most valuable no annual fee cash back cards on the market.

Earning cash back

The Freedom Unlimited earns 5 percent cash back on all travel purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 percent back on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery purchases) and 3 percent back at drugstores. That’s in addition to the 1.5 percent cash back the card already earns on general purchases.

This combination of a solid base cash back rate and a generous bonus cash back rate in multiple categories makes the Freedom Unlimited a very valuable no annual fee credit card and a great entry point for frequent travelers who want to get started with credit card rewards.

Redeeming cash back

The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a ton of choice in how you can redeem your rewards. You can opt for cash back in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit, redeem for travel or gift cards or shop online at Amazon.com.

You can also combine your rewards with a premium Ultimate Rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card to enjoy additional flexibility, such as the ability to move your rewards to one of Chase’s transfer partners at a one to one ratio.

How much are points worth?

The value of Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards will vary depending on how you choose to redeem them. Here’s a look at what sort of value you can expect on average with each redemption method:

Redemption method Point value (cents)
Cash back (statement credit or deposit) 1
Travel 1
Gift cards 1
Apple purchases 1
Amazon.com purchases 0.8

If you have a premium Ultimate Rewards card, you can get even more value out of your points: Combine your rewards with the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred cards and redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal and you’ll enjoy a value of 1.25 cents per point, a 25 percent increase versus the value you’d get redeeming for cash back. It’s even better with the Sapphire Reserved, as your points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Benefits

While the Chase Freedom Unlimited card’s perks can’t compete with those you’ll find on a luxury travel card like the Sapphire Reserve, the card still offers a number of useful consumer benefits. Here are a few standouts:

Introductory APR on new purchases

If you’re facing a big expense like a home renovation or car repair and need to chip away at the cost over time, the Freedom Unlimited could be a big help thanks to its 0 percent intro APR on new purchases for the first 15 months (14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable after that). This means that you can carry a balance on the card for your first 15 months as a cardmember and you won’t be charged interest. Just make sure you have a payoff plan in place so that you can eliminate your balance before the end of the introductory period – any balance remaining after the first 15 months will be subject to the card’s regular APR.

Complimentary DashPass subscription

A great complement to the Freedom Unlimited card’s bonus rewards rate on dining purchases, DashPass is a subscription service from the popular food delivery company DoorDash that gets you unlimited deliveries for a $0 delivery fee on orders over $12. The Freedom Unlimited comes with 3 months of free membership, after which – if you don’t cancel beforehand – you’re automatically enrolled in DashPass for 50 percent off the monthly rate (typically $9.99 per month) for the next 9 months.

Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage

If something you bought with the card is damaged or stolen within 120 days of your purchase, the Freedom Unlimited covers the cost up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. Plus, eligible U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less on items you purchase with the card are extended by a year.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

If your trip is canceled or cut short due to sickness, severe weather or other covered circumstances, you can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for pre-paid tickets and nonrefundable passenger fares.

Rates and Fees

Luckily, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is very low on fees. Assuming you pay your balance on time and in full, it costs nothing to carry the card.

  • Annual fee: The Freedom Unlimited makes for a great all-purpose rewards card because with no annual fee to factor in, you won’t have to worry about whether the card’s perks or rewards justify its cost. Instead, simply keep the Chase 5/24 rule in mind and decide whether the card is worth the credit ding that comes from a hard pull.
  • APR: Freedom Unlimited offers a fairly wide range of potential APRs. Depending on your credit history, you’ll be assigned a variable APR between 14.99 percent and 23.74 percent. While the low end is a bit lower than the current average credit card interest rate, the high end is nearly 40 percent higher than the average APR.
  • Foreign transaction fee: One of the most glaring negatives of the Freedom Unlimited is its foreign transaction fee. If you use the card abroad, you’ll be charged an additional 3 percent of the purchase amount for each transaction. If you frequently travel overseas, you’ll want to use a no foreign transaction fee credit card
  • Balance transfer fee: The Freedom Unlimited has offered an introductory APR on balance transfers in the past, but no such promotions are currently available. As such, it likely won’t be a good option for paying off existing debt. If you qualify for the card’s low-end APR, however, and if that rate is lower than what you’re facing on your existing account, you could try transferring your balance to the Freedom Unlimited for a fee of 5 percent of your transferred balance.

How the Chase Freedom Unlimited compares to other cash back cards

There are a lot of cash back credit cards on the market today, and most cards in this niche do not charge an annual fee. However, some cards stand out due to various benefits they offer, or for their lucrative initial bonuses.

Here are some of the top cash back credit cards you may want to consider:

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Welcome bonus Other details
Citi® Double Cash Card $0 Up to 2% cash back on every purchase (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay off those purchases) None No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn; includes 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (13.99%.- 23.99% variable APR thereafter)

 

Chase Freedom Flex℠ $0 5% cash back on activated bonus category purchases each quarter (up to $1,500, then 1%) and on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases

5% on Lyft rides (through March 2022)

3% on dining and drugstore purchases

1% on all other purchases

$200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account opening

5% cash back on eligible grocery store purchases ((not including Target® or Walmart® purchases ,up to $12,000 in your first year)

Includes a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the 15 months (14.99% to 23.74% variable APR after)

 

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card $0 3X points on dining, travel and transit, gas station purchases and select streaming services 20,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months Includes a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months of card membership (14.49% – 24.49% variable APR thereafter)

 

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Limited Time Offer: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95. Offer Expires 12/10/2020) 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%); 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services; 3% cash back on transit purchases; 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations; 1% on all other purchases

 

Limited Time Offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Offer Expires 12/10/2020 Includes a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months of card membership (13.99% – 23.99% variable APR thereafter)

 

The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card has been collected by Bankrate.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

Best cards to pair with the Chase Freedom Unlimited

While you can pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with any number of rewards credit cards that offer different perks or rewards categories, it’s wise to pair this card with another premier Chase credit card if you want to travel – particularly the Sapphire Reserve.

You can pool all of your points in one Chase Ultimate Rewards account for maximum redemption value and can even pool points with a spouse or partner that lives at the same address, or with any Chase business credit card accounts you might have.

Pairing with the Reserve also gives you the option of transferring points to popular Chase airline and hotel partners like Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards.

As a reminder, if you have both the Freedom Unlimited and Reserve, you can enjoy extra value when you redeem points for travel through the Chase portal (with the Reserve offering a 50 percent higher point value when you redeem this way).

Bankrate’s Take – Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?

The Freedom Unlimited should be an exceptional deal for anyone who wants to earn flexible rewards without an annual fee. It’s hard to beat the card’s generous welcome bonus and ongoing rewards, particularly given that most cards that offer bonus cash back in specific spending categories offer just 1 percent back on general purchases.

You also have myriad options for redeeming your rewards, whether you prefer cash back or travel. If you also have (or would consider getting) the Chase Sapphire Reserve and might want to pool points for future travel, that’s even better, as you’ll enjoy a 50 percent boost in point value when you redeem through Chase’s travel portal.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Boost rewards value when you transfer points to a higher-tier Chase card
  • Comes with an introductory APR on new purchases

Cons

  • You’ll only get 5 percent back on travel if you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal
  • No promotional balance transfer offer included